Stoney Brook Senior Living in Belton is hosting a free Community Stress-Busting Program for Family Caregivers to help cope with the stress of caring for loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia at no cost.

The program begins Wednesday and continues for nine weeks.

Walter Langford, who works with the Area Agency on Aging of Central Texas, said the idea for the program arose after the organization realized family caregivers needed support, too.

“It helps them learn to manage their stress when trying to care for a loved one,” he said. “What we see is a lot of caregivers burn out, and many times their health breaks, which makes it hard to take care of someone else.”

As one of the wellness instructors, Langford said the program covers a number of topics geared toward stress management.

“We talk about the effects of stress on the mind, the body and the spirit,” he said. “Then we go into relaxation techniques, the challenges of dementia, and the grieving of a loved one.”

Langford knows firsthand how difficult it can be, as he had a parent with Alzheimer’s.

“You basically lose the person you’ve known all of your life, the body is still the same but everything else has changed,” he said. “A lot of caregivers experience varying degrees of depression, so we teach the importance of maintaining their own health.”

Participants must preregister as space is limited to eight people. Smaller groups tend to be more interactive and create stronger bonds, Langford said.

While the organization hopes to extend the program to other Central Texas communities, Langford said it’s dependent on an increase in volunteers and funding.

The program is from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays at Stoney Brook, 500 River Fair Blvd., Belton. For more information or to register, call (254) 770-2330.

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